Going Solar FAQs

As the popularity of solar energy continues to rise, so does the curiosity and interest of homeowners considering the installation of solar panels. While solar power offers a clean and sustainable energy solution, it’s natural for people to have questions before embarking on this renewable energy journey. This article aims to address some of the most frequently asked questions about installing solar panels, providing clarity and insights to help individuals make informed decisions.

  1. How do solar panels work? Solar panels generate electricity by harnessing sunlight through photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter then converts DC electricity into alternating current (AC), which can be used to power household appliances and feed excess energy back into the grid.
  2. Are my roof and location suitable for solar panels? The suitability of your roof and location for solar panels depends on several factors. A south-facing roof with minimal shading usually yields the best results, but east and west-facing roofs can still be viable. The angle and condition of the roof are also important considerations. Additionally, factors such as local climate, sun exposure, and potential obstructions should be evaluated to determine the solar potential of your property. Roof intrusions such as vents can limit placement of panels.
  3. How much do solar panels cost? The cost of solar panels can vary depending on factors such as system size, equipment quality, installation complexity, and regional market conditions. It is essential to obtain multiple quotes from reputable solar installers to compare prices and consider long-term value rather than focusing solely on upfront costs. The current 30% Federal Tax Credit and financing options can help offset the initial investment.
  4. How long do solar panels last? Solar panels are designed to be durable and typically come with a warranty ranging from 20 to 25 years. With proper installation and regular maintenance, solar panels can last well beyond their warranty period, continuing to generate electricity for several decades. It’s important to consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer and installer when choosing solar panels. Most panels lose between 1% and 2% of their efficiency in the first year. After the first year, premium panels like REC and Panasonic lose about .2% annually. The ‘basic’ panels like Hanwha Qcells will lose .6% annually.
  5. Will solar panels reduce my electricity bills? Solar panels have the potential to significantly reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills. By generating your own electricity, you can rely less on the grid and offset your consumption with the solar energy you produce. The amount of savings depends on factors such as system size, local electricity rates, and your energy consumption patterns. In some cases, excess energy can be fed back into the grid for credits or compensation.
  6. What maintenance do solar panels require? Solar panels generally require minimal maintenance. Regular cleaning to remove dust, debris, or snow is advisable to ensure optimal performance. It’s also recommended to have periodic inspections to check for any issues or damage. Most reputable installers offer warranties that cover performance and workmanship, giving homeowners peace of mind.
  7. Can I install solar panels if I’m connected to the grid? Absolutely. Many solar installations are connected to the grid, allowing homeowners to benefit from net metering. Net metering enables you to feed excess electricity back into the grid, earning credits that can be used when you require additional energy from the grid. This arrangement ensures a reliable energy supply even when solar production is low, such as during cloudy days or nighttime.
  8. Do I need to install a battery to go solar? A battery is not required to go solar, but it can be a good option for homeowners who want to store excess solar energy for use during times when the sun is not shining. Batteries can also provide backup power in case of a power outage.
  9. Can solar panels work in cloudy or rainy weather? Solar panels can still produce some electricity on cloudy or rainy days, although they may produce less energy than on sunny days. However, many solar panel systems are designed to produce enough electricity to meet the needs of a typical home, even on cloudy days.

Installing solar panels is an exciting and environmentally conscious decision that comes with many benefits. Understanding how solar panels work, assessing the suitability of your location, evaluating costs and savings, and considering maintenance requirements can empower homeowners to make informed choices that align with their energy goals. With proper planning and professional assistance, solar panels can pave the way to sustainable and cost-effective energy solutions.

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